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1.  Expression of SV2 isoforms during rodent brain development 
BMC Neuroscience  2013;14:87.
SV2A, SV2B and SV2C are synaptic vesicle proteins that are structurally related to members of the major facilitator superfamily (MFS). The function and transported substrate of the SV2 proteins is not clearly defined although they are linked to neurotransmitters release in a presynaptic calcium concentration-dependent manner. SV2A and SV2B exhibit broad expression in the central nervous system while SV2C appears to be more restricted in defined areas such as striatum. SV2A knockout mice start to display generalized seizures at a late developmental stage, around post-natal day 7 (P7), and die around P15. More recently, SV2A was demonstrated to be the molecular target of levetiracetam, an approved anti-epileptic drug (AED). The purpose of this work was to precisely analyze and quantify the SV2A, SV2B and SV2C expression during brain development to understand the contribution of these proteins in brain development and their impact on epileptic seizures.
First, we systematically analyzed by immunohistofluorescence, the SV2A, SV2B and SV2C expression during mouse brain development, from embryonic day 12 (E12) to P30. This semi-quantitative approach suggests a modulation of SV2A and SV2B expression in hippocampus around P7. This is the reason why we used various quantitative approaches (laser microdissection of whole hippocampus followed by qRT-PCR and western blot analysis) indicating that SV2A and SV2B expression increased between P5 and P7 and remained stable between P7 and P10. Moreover, the increase of SV2A expression in the hippocampus at P7 was mainly observed in the CA1 region while SV2B expression in this region remains stable.
The observed alterations of SV2A expression in hippocampus are consistent with the appearance of seizures in SV2A−/− animals at early postnatal age and the hypothesis that SV2A absence favors epileptic seizures around P7.
PMCID: PMC3765414  PMID: 23937191
SV2; Mouse brain; Development; Epileptic seizures
2.  A role for the canonical nuclear factor-κB pathway in coupling neurotrophin-induced differential survival of developing spiral ganglion neurons 
Neurotrophins are key players of neural development by controlling cell death programs. However, the signaling pathways that mediate their selective responses in different populations of neurons remain unclear. In the mammalian cochlea, sensory neurons differentiate perinatally into type I and II populations both expressing TrkB and TrkC, which bind respectively brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT3). How these two neuronal populations respond differentially to these two neurotrophins remains unknown. Here, we report in rat the segregation of the nuclear factor-κB (NFκB) subunit p65 specifically within the type II population postnatally. Using dissociated cultures of embryonic and postnatal spiral ganglion neurons, we observed a specific requirement of NFκB for BDNF but not NT3-dependent neuronal survival during a particular postnatal time window that corresponds to a period of neuronal cell death and hair cell innervation refinement in the developing cochlea. Consistently, postnatal p65 knockout mice showed a specific decreased number in type II spiral ganglion neurons. Taken together, these results identify NFκB as a type II neuron-specific factor that participates in the selective survival effects of BDNF and NT3 signaling on developing spiral ganglion neurons.
PMCID: PMC3842586  PMID: 24348336
spiral ganglion neurons; neurotrophins; neuronal survival; development; NF-κB; cochlea
3.  Motor Fatigue Measurement by Distance-Induced Slow Down of Walking Speed in Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34744.
Background and rationale
Motor fatigue and ambulation impairment are prominent clinical features of people with multiple sclerosis (pMS). We hypothesized that a multimodal and comparative assessment of walking speed on short and long distance would allow a better delineation and quantification of gait fatigability in pMS. Our objectives were to compare 4 walking paradigms: the timed 25-foot walk (T25FW), a corrected version of the T25FW with dynamic start (T25FW+), the timed 100-meter walk (T100MW) and the timed 500-meter walk (T500MW).
Thirty controls and 81 pMS performed the 4 walking tests in a single study visit.
The 4 walking tests were performed with a slower WS in pMS compared to controls even in subgroups with minimal disability. The finishing speed of the last 100-meter of the T500MW was the slowest measurable WS whereas the T25FW+ provided the fastest measurable WS. The ratio between such slowest and fastest WS (Deceleration Index, DI) was significantly lower only in pMS with EDSS 4.0–6.0, a pyramidal or cerebellar functional system score reaching 3 or a maximum reported walking distance ≤4000 m.
The motor fatigue which triggers gait deceleration over a sustained effort in pMS can be measured by the WS ratio between performances on a very short distance and the finishing pace on a longer more demanding task. The absolute walking speed is abnormal early in MS whatever the distance of effort when patients are unaware of ambulation impairment. In contrast, the DI-measured ambulation fatigability appears to take place later in the disease course.
PMCID: PMC3326046  PMID: 22514661
4.  Automated EEG entropy measurements in coma, vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome and minimally conscious state  
Functional Neurology  2011;26(1): 25 - 30 .
Monitoring the level of consciousness in brain-injured patients with disorders of consciousness is crucial as it provides diagnostic and prognostic information. Behavioral assessment remains the gold standard for assessing consciousness but previous studies have shown a high rate of misdiagnosis. This study aimed to investigate the usefulness of electroencephalography (EEG) entropy measurements in differentiating unconscious (coma or vegetative) from minimally conscious patients.
Left fronto-temporal EEG recordings (10-minute resting state epochs) were prospectively obtained in 56 patients and 16 age-matched healthy volunteers. Patients were assessed in the acute (≤1 month post-injury; n=29) or chronic (>1 month post-injury; n=27) stage. The etiology was traumatic in 23 patients. Automated online EEG entropy calculations (providing an arbitrary value ranging from 0 to 91) were compared with behavioral assessments (Coma Recovery Scale-Revised) and outcome.
EEG entropy correlated with Coma Recovery Scale total scores (r=0.49). Mean EEG entropy values were higher in minimally conscious (73±19; mean and standard deviation) than in vegetative/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome patients (45±28). Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed an entropy cut-off value of 52 differentiating acute unconscious from minimally conscious patients (sensitivity 89% and specificity 90%). In chronic patients, entropy measurements offered no reliable diagnostic information. EEG entropy measurements did not allow prediction of outcome.
User-independent time-frequency balanced spectral EEG entropy measurements seem to constitute an interesting diagnostic – albeit not prognostic – tool for assessing neural network complexity in disorders of consciousness in the acute setting. Future studies are needed before using this tool in routine clinical practice, and these should seek to improve automated EEG quantification paradigms in order to reduce the remaining false negative and false positive findings.
PMCID: PMC3814509  PMID: 21693085
coma ;  EEG entropy ;  electroencephalography ;  minimally conscious state ;  unresponsive wakefulness syndrome ;  vegetative state
5.  Default network connectivity reflects the level of consciousness in non-communicative brain-damaged patients 
Brain  2009;133(1):161-171.
The ‘default network’ is defined as a set of areas, encompassing posterior-cingulate/precuneus, anterior cingulate/mesiofrontal cortex and temporo-parietal junctions, that show more activity at rest than during attention-demanding tasks. Recent studies have shown that it is possible to reliably identify this network in the absence of any task, by resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging connectivity analyses in healthy volunteers. However, the functional significance of these spontaneous brain activity fluctuations remains unclear. The aim of this study was to test if the integrity of this resting-state connectivity pattern in the default network would differ in different pathological alterations of consciousness. Fourteen non-communicative brain-damaged patients and 14 healthy controls participated in the study. Connectivity was investigated using probabilistic independent component analysis, and an automated template-matching component selection approach. Connectivity in all default network areas was found to be negatively correlated with the degree of clinical consciousness impairment, ranging from healthy controls and locked-in syndrome to minimally conscious, vegetative then coma patients. Furthermore, precuneus connectivity was found to be significantly stronger in minimally conscious patients as compared with unconscious patients. Locked-in syndrome patient’s default network connectivity was not significantly different from controls. Our results show that default network connectivity is decreased in severely brain-damaged patients, in proportion to their degree of consciousness impairment. Future prospective studies in a larger patient population are needed in order to evaluate the prognostic value of the presented methodology.
PMCID: PMC2801329  PMID: 20034928
Default mode; fMRI; coma; vegetative state; minimally conscious state
6.  Visual fixation in the vegetative state: an observational case series PET study 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:35.
Assessment of visual fixation is commonly used in the clinical examination of patients with disorders of consciousness. However, different international guidelines seem to disagree whether fixation is compatible with the diagnosis of the vegetative state (i.e., represents "automatic" subcortical processing) or is a sufficient sign of consciousness and higher order cortical processing.
We here studied cerebral metabolism in ten patients with chronic post-anoxic encephalopathy and 39 age-matched healthy controls. Five patients were in a vegetative state (without fixation) and five presented visual fixation but otherwise showed all criteria typical of the vegetative state. Patients were matched for age, etiology and time since insult and were followed by repeated Coma Recovery Scale-Revised (CRS-R) assessments for at least 1 year. Sustained visual fixation was considered as present when the eyes refixated a moving target for more than 2 seconds as defined by CRS-R criteria.
Patients without fixation showed metabolic dysfunction in a widespread fronto-parietal cortical network (with only sparing of the brainstem and cerebellum) which was not different from the brain function seen in patients with visual fixation. Cortico-cortical functional connectivity with visual cortex showed no difference between both patient groups. Recovery rates did not differ between patients without or with fixation (none of the patients showed good outcome).
Our findings suggest that sustained visual fixation in (non-traumatic) disorders of consciousness does not necessarily reflect consciousness and higher order cortical brain function.
PMCID: PMC2895583  PMID: 20504324
7.  Sleep in disorders of consciousness 
Sleep medicine reviews  2009;14(2):97-105.
From a behavioral as well as neurobiological point of view, sleep and consciousness are intimately connected. A better understanding of sleep cycles and sleep architecture of patients suffering from disorders of consciousness (DOC) might therefore improve the clinical care for these patients as well as our understanding of the neural correlations of consciousness. Defining sleep in severely brain-injured patients is however problematic as both their electrophysiological and sleep patterns differ in many ways from healthy individuals. This paper discusses the concepts involved in the study of sleep of patients suffering from DOC and critically assesses the applicability of standard sleep criteria in these patients. The available literature on comatose and vegetative states as well as that on locked-in and related states following traumatic or non-traumatic severe brain injury will be reviewed. A wide spectrum of sleep disturbances ranging from almost normal patterns to severe loss and architecture disorganization are reported in cases of DOC and some patterns correlate with diagnosis and prognosis. At the present time the interactions of sleep and consciousness in brain-injured patients are a little studied subject but, the authors suggest, a potentially very interesting field of research.
PMCID: PMC2855378  PMID: 19524464
Consciousness; Coma; Vegetative state; Minimally conscious state; Locked-in syndrome; Brain injury; Sleep; Arousal; Polysomnography
8.  Diagnostic accuracy of the vegetative and minimally conscious state: Clinical consensus versus standardized neurobehavioral assessment 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:35.
Previously published studies have reported that up to 43% of patients with disorders of consciousness are erroneously assigned a diagnosis of vegetative state (VS). However, no recent studies have investigated the accuracy of this grave clinical diagnosis. In this study, we compared consensus-based diagnoses of VS and MCS to those based on a well-established standardized neurobehavioral rating scale, the JFK Coma Recovery Scale-Revised (CRS-R).
We prospectively followed 103 patients (55 ± 19 years) with mixed etiologies and compared the clinical consensus diagnosis provided by the physician on the basis of the medical staff's daily observations to diagnoses derived from CRS-R assessments performed by research staff. All patients were assigned a diagnosis of 'VS', 'MCS' or 'uncertain diagnosis.'
Of the 44 patients diagnosed with VS based on the clinical consensus of the medical team, 18 (41%) were found to be in MCS following standardized assessment with the CRS-R. In the 41 patients with a consensus diagnosis of MCS, 4 (10%) had emerged from MCS, according to the CRS-R. We also found that the majority of patients assigned an uncertain diagnosis by clinical consensus (89%) were in MCS based on CRS-R findings.
Despite the importance of diagnostic accuracy, the rate of misdiagnosis of VS has not substantially changed in the past 15 years. Standardized neurobehavioral assessment is a more sensitive means of establishing differential diagnosis in patients with disorders of consciousness when compared to diagnoses determined by clinical consensus.
PMCID: PMC2718857  PMID: 19622138
9.  Guillain-Barré syndrome following hepatitis E 
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is often triggered by a preceding bacterial or viral infection. Occasionally, it has been observed in association with acute hepatitis A, B and C, and three cases have been previously described in India in which GBS was associated with acute hepatitis E. A molecular mimicry mechanism is supposed to be involved in the pathogenesis of GBS triggered by infectious agents, although the nature of the shared epitopes has not been characterized in most instances, including that in the case of hepatotropic viruses. We report a case of GBS following acute hepatitis E in a European individual. The presence of antiganglioside GM2 antibodies in this patient suggested molecular mimicry involving ganglioside GM2 in the pathogenesis of GBS associated with hepatitis E.
PMCID: PMC2669950  PMID: 19340910
Gangliosides; Guillain-Barré syndrome; Hepatitis E; Molecular mimicry; Viral hepatitis
10.  Period 2 regulates neural stem/progenitor cell proliferation in the adult hippocampus 
BMC Neuroscience  2009;10:30.
Newborn granule neurons are generated from proliferating neural stem/progenitor cells and integrated into mature synaptic networks in the adult dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Since light/dark variations of the mitotic index and DNA synthesis occur in many tissues, we wanted to unravel the role of the clock-controlled Period2 gene (mPer2) in timing cell cycle kinetics and neurogenesis in the adult DG.
In contrast to the suprachiasmatic nucleus, we observed a non-rhythmic constitutive expression of mPER2 in the dentate gyrus. We provide evidence that mPER2 is expressed in proliferating neural stem/progenitor cells (NPCs) and persists in early post-mitotic and mature newborn neurons from the adult DG. In vitro and in vivo analysis of a mouse line mutant in the mPer2 gene (Per2Brdm1), revealed a higher density of dividing NPCs together with an increased number of immature newborn neurons populating the DG. However, we showed that the lack of mPer2 does not change the total amount of mature adult-generated hippocampal neurons, because of a compensatory increase in neuronal cell death.
Taken together, these data demonstrated a functional link between the constitutive expression of mPER2 and the intrinsic control of neural stem/progenitor cells proliferation, cell death and neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of adult mice.
PMCID: PMC2714160  PMID: 19327139
11.  Nestin-positive mesenchymal stem cells favour the astroglial lineage in neural progenitors and stem cells by releasing active BMP4 
BMC Neuroscience  2004;5:33.
Spontaneous repair is limited after CNS injury or degeneration because neurogenesis and axonal regrowth rarely occur in the adult brain. As a result, cell transplantation has raised much interest as potential treatment for patients with CNS lesions. Several types of cells have been considered as candidates for such cell transplantation and replacement therapies. Foetal brain tissue has already been shown to have significant effects in patients with Parkinson's disease. Clinical use of the foetal brain tissue is, however, limited by ethical and technical problems as it requires high numbers of grafted foetal cells and immunosuppression. Alternatively, several reports suggested that mesenchymal stem cells, isolated from adult bone marrow, are multipotent cells and could be used in autograft approach for replacement therapies.
In this study, we addressed the question of the possible influence of mesenchymal stem cells on neural stem cell fate. We have previously reported that adult rat mesenchymal stem cells are able to express nestin in defined culture conditions (in the absence of serum and after 25 cell population doublings) and we report here that nestin-positive (but not nestin-negative) mesenchymal stem cells are able to favour the astroglial lineage in neural progenitors and stem cells cultivated from embryonic striatum. The increase of the number of GFAP-positive cells is associated with a significant decrease of the number of Tuj1- and O4-positive cells. Using quantitative RT-PCR, we demonstrate that mesenchymal stem cells express LIF, CNTF, BMP2 and BMP4 mRNAs, four cytokines known to play a role in astroglial fate decision. In this model, BMP4 is responsible for the astroglial stimulation and oligodendroglial inhibition, as 1) this cytokine is present in a biologically-active form only in nestin-positive mesenchymal stem cells conditioned medium and 2) anti-BMP4 antibodies inhibit the nestin-positive mesenchymal stem cells conditioned medium inducing effect on astrogliogenesis.
When thinking carefully about mesenchymal stem cells as candidates for cellular therapy in neurological diseases, their effects on resident neural cell fate have to be considered.
PMCID: PMC520747  PMID: 15369599

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